The State Department spokesman, a once-a-week golfer, teed off Wednesday on President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela for criticizing the gentleman's game as a "bourgeois sport."
Describing himself as the department's "self-appointed ambassador-at-large for golf," P.J. Crowley swung hard at the leftist leader who last month said rich people who want to play golf at the public course in Maracay, Venezuela, can build another one on the city's outskirts.
The government should take over that course in the urban area and make room for housing, Chavez said on television.
"It isn't justified that in the middle of a city there's a golf course, with so much land lacking for buildings for the people," Chavez said.
Crowley, who describes himself as a seasoned golfer with a low handicap of 8, launched the daily press briefing at the department to protest the "unwarranted attack" by Chavez on the game.
"The suggestion that golf, a truly global sport, is bourgeois is a mulligan," Crowley said, referring to the term for retaking a bad shot with a new swing. "And once again Mr. Chavez, one of the hemisphere's most divisive figures, finds himself out of bounds."
President Barack Obama, meanwhile, plays golf regularly on weekends.
Chavez has long been the target of U.S. officials for taking his country in a leftist direction and not honoring democratic commitments.
Criticizing golf during his weekly television program, Chavez said his government was not banning the game. But the mayor of Caracas, the capital, in 2006 announced plans to expropriate three exclusive golf courses for public housing projects. The plan has not been carried out.